Four more interviews with Damsels in Distress star Greta Gerwig to catch up with here. Although, while some of the interviews with Stillman were repetitive in places, it seems like there’s an even narrower range of topics to ask actors…
At ArtInfo, Graham Fuller has a reasonable interview:
ArtInfo: Tell me about speaking the very ornate, hyper-articulate dialogue that Whit Stillman wrote for Violet and if it affected your acting.
Gerwig: It did. I think the biggest thing for me was that I had to get the voices of other actors [who worked with Stillman earlier] out of my head, specifically the voices of Chris Eigeman and Kate Beckinsale. They were great favorites of mine in his films, which I love. I have such a good idea of what the parts he writes are like when they are executed well, and I didn’t want to merely imitate them. A lot of it was trying to find my own way of doing it in my own rhythm. I don’t know if it was successful, but that’s what I did.
Playing Violet, I had the largest number of words I’ve ever had to work with on a movie script, and it was a wonderful challenge because the words are so good. It’s much harder when the writing’s bad. You’ve a lot more work to do. With good writing, you have to figure out how to let it come through you instead of imposing yourself on it.
Gerwig was interviewd on NPR’s All Things Considered by Robert Siegel. You can listen to the five minutes or so and some quotes are pulled out on the page:
“He writes in such a specific rhythm,” Gerwig says, “and he has such a strong voice that a lot of what I did was to try not to imitate the other actors who had done it so brilliantly before me. A lot of it was trying to find the words in myself, and not simply imitate what it was.”
“I really try to come at it,” she says, “like I’ve never seen any of his films before and I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like. It involves a lot of almost self-hypnosis.”
And then there are often comparisons between Stillman and Woody Allen, whose next film Gerwig is also in. At the Daily Herald Dann Gire asks:
Gire: What’s the major difference between acting for Mr. Stillman vs. acting for Mr. Allen?
Gerwig: They’re similar, but Woody is much less precious about his words. He doesn’t need you to say the words as written. He’ll say, “If this isn’t working for you, just throw out the script. Say whatever you want and get the gist of it.” Of course, he has written jokes that don’t work unless they’re said exactly as written.
Gire: What about Mr. Stillman?
Gerwig: Whit is a completely unique auteur voice in films. The thing about him is his careful attention to language and how much he cares about words and syntax and vocabulary. I think he expresses his cinematic ideas through dialogue. It’s different from working with someone who’s visually based.
And at the Guardian Gerwig talks to Tim Lewis:
Guardian: Whit Stillman has been called “the Wasp Woody Allen”. Now that you’ve worked with the real one, on his new film To Rome With Love, do you see similarities?
Gerwig: In a way, I find it strange that people put them together. I suppose they are both very funny and the characters who say their lines are smart and self-aware. But as film-makers, they are totally different. Woody Allen, for the most part, doesn’t really want you to stick to the script. He doesn’t need it to be word for word the way he wrote it, which is the opposite of Whit.
And that’s all from Greta for now!